Hello! I’m Alyssa Smith, aka Temporal. I’ve been playing in the circuit since 2013 or so, and I’ve been to 50 major (regional level+) tournaments since then. I’ve played in worlds for the TCG in 2015, and for VGC in 2016. I’ve Top Cut Madison regionals 3 times, 2015, ’16, and ‘19. Since COVID I’ve focused on organizing the online scene, starting up the Hatterene Series, I’ve been a large part in USPA, NPA, Rose Tower, and various other leagues/circuits. Since COVID I’ve honestly felt a large part of my life just got cut away, so I’ve been working to make a space for people to enjoy the game and environment just as I have the past 10 years. I know this season will be full of a lot of people’s first Regional, and even live, event, so here is what I do to prepare for regionals, what you need to bring, and what to expect when you get there.
*This article has been updated to accommodate the new 2023 season rules with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Of course, there is always a lot of work going into actually preparing for the event. Here are some physical things you need to get done and some tips in doing so.
Registration is one of the first steps of course, as you need to be in the event to play it. As soon as you confirm travel plans, make sure you register. There is always a late registration fee if you sign-up a week or two before the event, as the organizer needs to pay late adjustment fees to seating and whatnot. You will need your Play! Pokémon ID number to register, so if you don’t have one (or don’t remember it), head to the Pokémon website, and there will be steps to create one under Play! Pokémon Settings. Once you register, make sure you get the email! This will be your confirmation that you have paid and are in the event. This may take about an hour or so to get the email, so don’t panic if you don’t get it instantly. I’ve had a friend who thought they had registered but didn’t check to get the email, and hadn’t actually registered, and couldn’t play in the event, so make sure you get it!
Registration has been selling out very fast for major events recently, so make sure you have everything set to be able to button mash that registration button. For detailed instructions, check out this ‘How To Register’ document I made:
The USPA Discord will always announce when we get information regarding when registration will open.
If you haven’t traveled for an event such as a convention before, there are a few suggestions. If you have friends or know anyone who is going, try and get a hotel room/Airbnb with them, as that will keep the cost of travel lower. Most players will book the hotel that the convention center is attached to (if applicable), or one very close by (within walking distance). Parking can be rough in a city or near convention centers, so it’s typically easier to park at the hotel and be able to walk. Of course, if something is cheaper and it all works out, by all means book there. For flights, it is suggested you get in the Friday afternoon/evening and leave Sunday late afternoon/evening (or even Monday if possible). You do not need to be there Friday for the Regional (though that will speed up COVID requirement checks), and if you make Top Cut, you don’t want to have to rush out of there for your flight. However, again, if something is cheaper/the best way for you, do what you need.
Finally the Pokémon aspect! In a general sense, you want to be prepared for the actual event mentally. It’s never fun rushing to get your team in game while on the drive or flight there on Friday. You can decide on a team whenever it works for you, but it is suggested you have some sets in game to get used to that environment, and then have the team in game a few days before the event. Try and have your team done and in game the Thursday night before the event, and submit your team on RK9 by Friday morning (and double check it!!). The deadline for team submission will be on your registration page. San Diego will be 8PM Friday night. Get a friend to check it over as well, there have been many times where people get Pokémon taken off their team because something was wrong. Even if one stat doesn’t match, that Pokémon will be taken off the team, and you will receive a game 1 loss for your next round. Make sure your in game team matches your team sheet exactly.
Pokémon is truly far more a mental game than most people give it credit for. The main thing to remember is that you’ve played this game before, you’ve done it hundreds of times. You’re here because you want to be here and have fun. Even if this game frustrates us all, it is fun. Every Regional is a different experience. When you sit down across from your opponent each round, it’s not going to matter who they were before the match, what matters is them during the match. Of course, you can gauge relative levels, like Wolfe isn’t going to be bringing an in-game team and not know his type chart, but play the game in the moment. All of us have different levels of experience, but that doesn’t mean we can’t win the first regional we attend (shoutout Eshi). In short, do your best, and have some fun.
What to Bring
There are a lot of things to bring to a major, and honestly there are a lot of things people forget to bring. I’ve lent my awesome portable chargers to many people, and seen people searching for pens, but here is a major list of things to bring.
- Nintendo Switch
- Nintendo Switch online subscription
- Medical mask (and a 2-layer cloth mask, if wanted) (COVID Rules)
- Play! Pokémon ID number
- Water! (You can ‘dip and sip’, quickly pull your mask down to take a sip of water in the venue)
- Snacks (Again to be consumed outside of venue via COVID rules)
- Portable charger + cord (For phone and switch, more needed for phone)
- Deodorant (yes please)
- Hand sanitizer
- Notepad with blank sheets of paper (General notepad lines are fine, but no text!)
- Folder or safe place for open team sheet
- Pencil/Pen (Either for notes or to sign the match slip when all the pens go missing)
- Wired headphones/earbuds
- Plushie/Good luck charm
- Wired controller
Overall, sometimes it can be easier to carry less things and not have to worry about setting up at the table each time. You should have enough room and not be as squished as per COVID regulations, people have to be seated 3+ feet away from each other, but sometimes once everything is out it can be a little squished on the table. I know some players who just have their Switch and a pen in their pocket, others will have literally everything I listed (me). Do what works for you, I need headphones because I get very distracted during sets, and both headphones and my notes keep me focused. If there’s anything else, feel free to bring it, but don’t pack so much stuff that you can’t fit it all into your bag.
What to Expect
To welcome you to the event, the convention center will typically have signs pointing you to the correct room where the event is (or just follow the flow of people also wearing Pokémon gear). They are held in a large room, with rows of tables, with different spaces on the side (or in the middle of the room) for stream, side events, swag pickup, vendors, and the main ‘hive’ (where all the computers are set up to run the event). Typically, VG and TCG will be on separate sides of the room, so make sure you’re at the correct side! There are plenty of helpful judges who you can ask if you are confused as well.
The VG side will have a setup for your switch (it’s kind of bulky and takes up a large portion of the table). This allows you and your opponent to connect via wired ethernet connection, and also charges your switch while you are playing. The only set up you need is to have your wired settings on ‘automatic’ and have your Switch in ‘airplane mode’.
VG usually has a ‘team lock’, however for 2023 there will not be a team lock, and will instead be using Open Team Sheets. Because of this, make sure to not have any similar teams in your other Battle Teams or borrowed Rental teams. You cannot use Rental teams either. Depending on how the regional operates, you will either need to hand write your open sheet with the provided paper before the event, or will be handed your official open team sheet from judges during the Player Meeting before Round 1. San Diego will provide players with printed team sheets. Do not lose your provided team sheet!
You also have to submit a full ‘team sheet’, which has been changed to be submitted online via RK9 labs (you should notice this after you register). It will tell you what time the team sheet needs to be submitted by. The team sheet will have spaces for you to fill in the Name, Form (if applicable), Tera type, Gender, Item, Ability, Moves, and Stats of each Pokémon. Make sure you copy down everything EXACTLY – and double check it too! Have a friend check it over if you can, there are very many team sheet errors – and that means that Pokémon gets taken off of the team. Some people may import Pokémon from Showdown – if you do that be careful, as some Pokémon such as Zacian have the Crowned form in Showdown, but that is not possible in the battle box, and the stats will be different (along with Behemoth Blade from Iron Head). Make sure to check what is submitted! Wi-Fi can deceive you, and you’ll think it submitted but it really didn’t.
There will be a ‘team check’ randomly throughout the day, it won’t get everyone but it is meant to make sure that 1) you don’t have illegal Pokémon and 2) that your team sheet matches your locked battle box. Once you finish your match, a judge will guide you to a table where there are other judges, and you hand them your switch for a few minutes until they give it back. You need a Nintendo Switch Online for the switch profile you are playing on! If you do not have one, then you may be disqualified (as the judge cannot hack check your team).
If you do have any problems throughout the day or even during a round, please feel free to ask a judge. They are there to help you and make sure you have a good experience. Especially if you notice something wrong with your opponent’s teamsheet or team, just call a judge.
A detailed PDF of TPCI’s COVID policies can be found here:
- Masks must be worn at all times in the venue (except when taking a sip of water)
- Must be a medical mask or multiple layers of non-woven material in combination with a medical mask
- Must have a nose wire
- No exhalation valve present
- If you have the symptoms of COVID-19 at the event, such as a fever, staff may direct individuals and those associated with them to leave the event venue
- If you have concerns that another medical issue may make you appear symptomatic (such as excessive coughing due to a medical issue), let staff know
During the Event (and General Timeline)
Before the Event
- Submit your team sheet on RK9labs (time specified in registration)
At Venue/Day 1
- Get into the venue! COVID policies – check in for a wristband, along with a security bag check (get there early to avoid waiting in line as check in closes!)
- Write your open teamsheet (if applicable)
- Pick up your swag! (Typically a hat or a playmat with extra goodies, anytime during weekend)
- Player Meeting and Announcements (if applicable)
- Round 1 Pairings and Announcements
- Rounds 2-X
- There may be a break for lunch in between rounds, depends on the TO/event
- Top Cut meeting + team check
At Venue/Day 2
- Top Cut meeting II + team check (time specified at top cut meeting)
- Top Cut begins
- Side events occur (typically there is a smaller CP tournament the host, however with COVID these will not be happening)
All information regarding timelines will be on the registration page, and there will be announcements in the venue as well. I cannot stress this more – get there early! Lines when deadlines are approaching are very stressful and can mess with your entire event.
While you’re playing your set, I’ve found it best to take it one game at a time. Don’t let any bad hax or reads mess with you for the next game. Take the last game into consideration, but each game is separate from each other. If I’m tilting or about to tilt, I let myself feel the tilt for 10-15 seconds before the next game (in between games!!), take myself out of the game and feel upset, and then come back. Tilt is a real thing, don’t repress it or it’s just something else you’re mixing up in your gameplay.
There are also activity wins, when the start of the round is announced (they’ll say Round X starts now), you have 5 minutes to get to your seat before you lose game 1, and 10 before game 2. When pairings are up, I suggest using your phone for them, just get to your seat, you don’t have to run, it’ll be fine.
In between rounds, just vibe with your friends, either old or new ones. Take it as a break to shake off the games before and hype people up! Just don’t stand too close to the pairings board, the hive, or the players still playing.
If you don’t get the result you wanted, it’s okay to be upset, but don’t take it out on anyone. At the end of the set, just say gg or good game, sign the match slip, and walk away. Don’t ruin someone else’s day because you got upset.
If anyone does anything to make you feel uncomfortable, you are allowed to call a judge or go talk to a judge after the match. Not everyone is aware of that, and I think it’s important to know what you can do if you feel uncomfortable or threatened. If a judge does brush you off, feel free to go to another who will address your concerns. Even if the judge can’t issue an official penalty (caution or warning), they’ll do their best to make you feel safe.
If you do get the result you wanted, first off that’s awesome and be proud, but make sure to still be considerate to your opponent and those around you. Don’t pop off at the table, go ahead and do that with your friends so you don’t disturb others.
After the Event
Chill! Get some dinner with friends, and literally forget about Pokémon, or play more Pokémon. If you’re in Top Cut you’ll probably want to prep a little, or a lot, whatever you want!
I know this was a bit long, so here are the main points you need to know
- Check for the registration email
- Submit your timesheet on time and correctly
- You do not need to be there Friday for a Regional (for Internationals you do)
- Get there early (on day of event)
- Get some sleep
- Have a good time!
Thanks so much for reading! I hope this helps as you attend the first live events for 2023. Good luck, and have fun!